Forest Lake goaltender Jesse Garcia (30) stops this shot with the handle of his stick, one of 26 saves he made on the night (Photos by Tim Kolehmainen).
C.J. Franklin couldn’t believe his luck.
The Forest Lake senior sniper found himself on a breakaway in the final minute of a tie game against Roseville in the Schwan Cup Silver Division semifinals Tuesday night at the Blaine Super Rink. It’s a play that has often resulted in a goal for Franklin, who is second on the Rangers in scoring this winter with 15 points.
Midway through the extra session, Franklin again was all alone on Larson. And again the Raiders’ goalie shut him down.
So who did Rangers’ coach Aaron Forsythe select as his second shooter in the three-man lineup?
“I was kind of nervous because missed three times on breakaways,” admitted Franklin.
Franklin buried his shootout chance with the same move that had been stopped three times previously. And Forest Lake goaltender Jesse Garcia made it stand up as the game-winner in a 3-2 victory that sends the Rangers into the championship game against No. 1A Breck.
“I just regrouped and went in and did my thing,” said Franklin, who admitted that he did change his stick for the shootout.
For a team that doesn’t need to use a shootout, the Rangers sure looked comfortable in it. According to Forysthe, they have a breakaway competition every Saturday morning at practice. The loser has to wear a yellow helmet in practice for the week, signifying his failure. Franklin didn’t want the “golden” sombrero Tuesday night.
“I think it probably helped Jesse, too,” said Forsythe of his goaltender. “Every Saturday he sees 20-some breakaways.”
Garcia’s save on Austin Colvard, the third and final shooter for the Raiders, set off a wild celebration in the crease. While Franklin went to his calling card move to win it, Garcia’s strategy in nets was very simple.
Roseville has also had plenty of experience in the shootout format, although it hasn’t been nearly as pleasant.
Four of the Raiders’ last five Schwan Cup Silver Division games spanning two seasons have gone to a shootout. All three games last winter went to the skills competition, with the Raiders on the short end in two of the three, including a loss to Lakeville South in the consolation final and a first-round loss to Blake.
But none of those hurt as much as Tuesday night’s loss to Forest Lake in the Schwan Cup Silver Division semifinals. The game officially is recorded as a tie, but it keeps Roseville from advancing to the final Wednesday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
“It’s a horrible way for our kids to lose a trip to the championship game,” said Roseville coach Jeff Pauletti. “I don’t mind the format, but to lose it to go into a championship game…”
Roseville's Alex Hultman (22) and Forest Lake's Brandon Rogers (27) look for a loose puck.
Overtime couldn't decide the final slot in the Schwan Cup Silver Division championship game, so Forest Lake and Roseville went to a shootout before the Rangers claimed a 3-2 victory Tueday night at the Blaine Super Rink. The game goes in the official record books as a tie.
C.J. Franklin and Lucas Kohls each scored on their breakaway chances and goaltender Jesse Garcia stopped 2-of-3 shots in the shootout for the Rangers (5-4-1). Forest Lake had led much of the game on goals by Brett Gravelle and Cody Rogala, taking a 2-0 lead into the final minutes of regulation.
But Roseville (7-2-1) stormed back in the final six minutes to tie. Tony Tilleson poked in a loose puck on a goal mouth scramble to cut the lead to one with 5 minutes, 58 seconds remaining. With goaltender Zach Larson off for an extra attacker, Andrew Colvard netted the tying goal with just 58.8 seconds on the clock.
Garcia finished with 26 saves for the Rangers, who were outshot 28-19. Larson had 16 saves for Roseville, which played its fourth shootout game in its last five Schwan Cup contests. Last year all three of the Raiders' holiday games went to the shootout, with only one going in favor of Roseville.
Forest Lake advances to play No. 1A Breck in the Silver Division final at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28 at the Xcel Energy Center. Roseville faces Lakeville South in the third-place game, also at 5:30 p.m. at the Blaine Super Rink.
1. Jesse Garcia, Forest Lake
Garcia looked like he was going to pitch a shutout in nets for Forest Lake until Roseville's final flurry. The tall, lanky netminder was in position as Roseville pumped 28 shots his direction. He showed good balance and crease awareness along with a quick glove. Even after giving up two goals in the final minutes, Garcia recovered to stop 2-of-3 shots in the shootout to send the Rangers to the Silver Division final.
2. C.J. Franklin, Forest Lake
Franklin didn't officially register a point in the game and he actually was stoned on three breakaway attempts, including one in the final minute of regulation and another in overtime -- each of which could have won the game. But he redeemed himself in the shootout with the game-winner, using the same move that had been stopped three times previously. Franklin was also a whirling dervish on the ice, using his speed and quickness to create numerous scoring chances.
3. Tom Bartel, Roseville and Jake McCann, Roseville
The Raiders' top two forwards also were held off the scoreboard, but they created many of Roseville's offensive chances in the game -- only to be stymied by Garcia. Gritty and quick, both were factors even if it didn't show up in the book.